January 28, 2021

Unemployment Claims Rise as Economic Worries Grow

A new study by the progressive Century Foundation found that 7.3 million workers would lose their benefits with the end of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. An additional 4.6 million will be cut off from Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which kicks in when state employment benefits run out.

The programs represent “the last lifelines available to millions of Americans in desperate need,” said Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow with the Century Foundation and co-author of the study with Elizabeth Pancotti. “It will be a crippling end to one of our darkest years.”

A separate study by the California Policy Lab, a research group working with state and local governments, reported that nearly 45 percent of California workers had filed for unemployment benefits since March, with 83 percent of the Black labor force applying during that period. Many of those workers are back on the job, but the end of the two programs will affect 750,000 Californians.

A new aid package from Washington would provide critical support for the economy right now, according to many economists. But stimulus legislation has been held up by differences over its scale.

On Monday, President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. called on the two parties to “come together” and enact a stimulus package along the lines of a $3 trillion proposal passed by the Democratic-controlled House. The Senate’s Republican leadership backs a $500 billion outlay.

For all the body blows of the last year, consumer demand remains relatively healthy, according Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America. “We are still seeing incredible strength in housing, and auto sales remain strong,” she said. “Consumers are still spending on bigger-ticket items.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/19/business/economy/unemployment-claims.html

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